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Sky Tonight—January 25, Last quarter moon, Saturn, Spica before sunrise

Courtesy of EarthSky
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The last quarter moon and the planet Saturn will shine on opposite sides of the bright star Spica before sunrise tomorrow (January 26). As seen from the northern hemisphere, the trio will appear southward before dawn.

If you are more of a night owl than an early bird, and live at mid-northern latitudes, you can catch all three – the moon, Spica, and Saturn – in your southeastern sky around 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. tomorrow. South of the equator, you have a good chance of catching the threesome before midnight tonight. They will be noticeable in a graceful line on the sky’s dome.

The last quarter moon falls at the same instant worldwide yet – as always – at different clock times. The last quarter moon comes on January 26, at 12:57 Universal Time. For us in the United States, that places tomorrow’s last quarter moon at 7:57 a.m. Eastern Time, 6:57 a.m. Central Time, 5:57 a.m. Mountain Time, and 4:57 a.m. Pacific Time. This is the time when the moon reaches the exact last quarter phase. For all of us, worldwide, every last quarter moon rises in the approximate middle of the night and sets in the approximate middle of the day.

Everyone around the world tomorrow will see the moon and Saturn in front of the constellation Virgo, with Spica – Virgo’s brightest star – shining in between the moon and Saturn. However, that does not mean everyone will see the moon at the instant of last quarter moon. As seen from Europe, Africa, and Asia, it will still be a rather slender waning gibbous moon that lights up tomorrow’s morning sky. By the time that the moon reaches last quarter phase, it will have set beneath their western horizon.

Understanding moon phases

For the most part, this sky show is a morning attraction. Watch for the moon and Saturn to flank the star Spica in the dawn and predawn sky on Wednesday, January 26!

Give me five minutes, I’ll give you Saturn in 2011

Spica: Speed on

Written by Bruce McClure

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U.S. Naval Observator Astronomical Information center

Universe Today

StarDate Online

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National Geographic

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Simostronomy Blog

Amazing Space

The York County Astronomical Society

Scope City

James S McDonnell Planetarium

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